By Carla Perrotta
The pervasive nursing shortage has increased the pressure on an already strained healthcare system. One group that is feeling this staffing crunch most acutely and increasingly being held accountable for staff retention is middle management.
In some cases, this pressure has worked to help increase retention levels. Yet, putting all the weight on middle managers is not a universal remedy. Tasking with this load could potentially lead to serious burnout. Administrators also need to understand how managers can help increase retention levels.
Much has been written about creating a culture of retention, one in which nurses feel needed and valued and are less inclined to leave. Numerous articles and studies illustrate the value of incorporating methods such as mentoring programs, in-service training or utilizing a healthcare staffing service in order to ease the pressure on existing employees.
Yet, for most organizations, its usually not enough to blindly implement these or other measures. What administrators need is a solid point person, somebody who has a big-picture view of the organizations overall strategic plan, yet also is aware of the daily issues that plague nurses and other healthcare staffers which, more than anything else, can cause them to leave.
This is where the middle manager comes in. These managers constantly straddle two worlds, implementing strategies devised by the higher levels of healthcare administration, while serving as the link between these higher levels and the general hospital workforce.
But in order to support middle managers in this crucial role and increase their chances of improving retention, it helps to know what they actually do.
Successful middle managers must balance many tasks and fulfill many roles on a daily basis, including:
Obviously, administrators ask a lot of their middle managers. The effects of beingÂ constantly pulled in different directions and forced to change roles and adapt to new initiatives, can result in high burnout for middle management. And this can be dangerous for a healthcare organization. While managers in other industries are typically responsible for helping to protect a companys bottom line, healthcare managers also must protect lifelines the lives of patients. The stakes in healthcare are higher than in other industries, so effective managers, who help reduce risk and save the organizations reputation, should be rewarded for their efforts.
You can reward your managers in many different ways. Again, just as the success of individual retention-building initiatives will depend upon your particular environment, you also should choose your rewards based on what fits your managers the best. Here are some suggestions:
For many organizations, effective middle managers are the glue that help to keep the foundation workforce the nursing staff and other healthcare workers that interact directly with your patients fulfilled and can be the key to building the coveted culture of retention. In an industry that is in constant flux, having this stability can help give you an edge on your competition.
Carla Perrotta has 22 years of experience in the healthcare staffing industry and is now responsible for all business operations related to Kelly Healthcare Resources, a business unit of staffing provider Kelly Services, Inc., based in Troy, Mich. For more information, visit www.kellyhealthcare.com.
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